The Swope Park Rangers will join the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference in 2019, the league announced Thursday as part of conference alignment plans for the 2019 season.
The 2019 USL Championship will feature 36 clubs across two conferences, with each team set to play 34 regular season matches over a 33-week period beginning the weekend of March 8-10, 2019.
The Rangers played each of their first three seasons in the Western Conference, winning conference titles in 2016 and 2017 en route to consecutive USL Cup appearances. SPR are one of six new arrivals to the Eastern Conference alongside rivals Saint Louis FC and 2019 expansion quartet Birmingham Legion FC, Hartford Athletic, Loudoun United FC and Memphis 901 FC.
The USL Championship’s other three expansion clubs – Austin Bold FC, El Paso Locomotive FC and New Mexico United – will join the Western Conference for their inaugural seasons in 2019.
Led by head coach Paulo Nagamura, the Rangers have faced just three of the 17 other Eastern Conference clubs in their three-year history. SPR fell to New York Red Bulls II and Louisville City FC in the 2016 and 2017 USL Cup Finals, respectively, and have faced Saint Louis FC in eight regular season meetings.
Home openers for the 2019 USL Championship and the full 2019 regular season schedule, including the Rangers’ 17-game home slate at Children’s Mercy Park, will be announced later this month.